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Irony of communities who host electricity projects lacking power

Rift Valley
 A geothermal production site in Olkaria, Naivasha. [File, Standard]

Most host communities where renewable energy is sourced do not have access to electricity or it is too expensive for them.

Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) who have to put up with conditions of energy production and development are now calling for a change in energy transmission.

The Lake Turkana Wind project and the Olkaria Geothermal Power project in Naivasha have been identified as some of the developments where surrounding communities have been affected.

Stakeholders are calling for concerted efforts as the country shifts from fossil fuels to renewable energy, noting that affected communities should be deeply engaged.

According to the Director of Friends of Lake Turkana Ikal Ang'elei, the push to replace fossil fuels with clean energy was timely but had major consequences on affected persons.

She noted that abandoning fossil fuels required an inclusive approach by all duty-bearers, including non-governmental entities involved in energy production and development.

"These communities are disproportionately dependent on fossil fuels for their day to energy needs and livelihoods," she said.

Ikal further noted that curbing extractive activities, including oil and gas drilling, could cause social and economic disruptions among indigenous communities.

Speaking during a consultative meeting in Naivasha, Ikal noted that communities affected by energy capital projects have nothing to smile about.

"Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities must engage and participate in policy-making that directly or indirectly affects them," she said.

Ikal said they had engaged donors, including World Bank (WB), over some of the projects that had ended up displacing tens of families at the expense of the power plants.

"In Turkana and Olkaria, communities which are mainly pastoralists have lost their pasture grounds to the power companies and received little or nothing in compensation," she said.

Claude Kabemba, the Executive Director of Southern Africa Resource Watch, noted that over 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity.

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